stronger than your strongest

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No matter how good your filtration system is, you’ll always find some who will discourage you, some who will push you down, and some who will break you. No matter how much you wrap yourself with the positives, some will find a way to inject negativity. At times like these, you will need to be stronger than your strongest and believe in yourself. They will push you to the ground but you will need to climb again, and again, and again.

They might not change and they might not surrender, but eventually they will disappear. But until then, you stand up and fight.

Don’t let them scare you, weaken you, devalue you – don’t let the negativity weigh you down.

Don’t let anybody break your spirit.

pranayama

Prana – ask me how it is pronounced accurately in Sanskrit because it has been butchered by the English language. It might now be an overly-priced cotton clothing store or even a fancy yoga word but Prana is the life force – in simple words, the sum total of all energy that when leaves the body, creates the differentiation between life and death. Ayama is to extend or draw out.

Let’s try a quick experiment. Just like how the nurses measure our pulse, let’s measure the number of times we breathe in a minute. Don’t worry – the blog is not going anywhere, I’ll wait until you open the app ‘clock’ on your iPhone. If you know me well, there’s no point arguing with me – just do it!

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What was your number? Did you observe that the breathing was quick, short, and shallow? Did your tummy get sucked in and bulge out? Probably not! With no awareness and simply breathing just because it comes naturally, we are creating a habit of shallow breathing. Shallow breathing pumps limited oxygen to limited space utilizing only a fraction of your total lung capacity. It leaves the rest of your lung capacity with old pollutants and toxins – stubborn tenants who wouldn’t leave voluntarily. My mom gave me an analogy. Imagine a pitcher full of water. It sits for a week and attracts dust particles, smoke, and pollution, and even traps a mosquito or two. You pour out only the top half and refill it with fresh water. After a week, you repeat this again and you do this for several weeks – will you drink this water? Probably not. The only way to have clean water every week is to empty out the pitcher completely and refill it with fresh water.  In an analogous world, lungs is to oxygen as pitcher is to water.

The first of the 26 poses in Bikram yoga is the Pranayama – an extension of the life force. By inhaling deeply, nourishing oxygen reaches the deepest ends of our respiratory system, clears out the cobwebs, and replaces the pollutants and toxins. It cleanses the lungs, forces a longer stretch of the torso, and influences a more complete cell development.

Our breathing, its speed and depth tells a lot about the state we are in. Prayanama relaxes and coaches us to slow down the overall pace of not only our heart, but also our mind. It brings back the wandering mind, melts away the stress and lets you let go.

Pranayama is learning how to breathe all over again.

rock bottom

I may be doing a kick-ass job in managing materials for $25MM revenue each quarter, but I’m out of toilet paper. My responsbilities include leading teams on planning ahead, coaching everyone on the PDCA cycle, and incorporating JIT strategies, but I’m out of toilet paper. I may just have to implement a 2-bin, Kanban system at home. You know you have failed in your life when you’re out of toilet paper. I think I have hit rock bottom.

The Japanese JIT strategy minimizes inventory costs, and cost of poor quality. It ensures that you don’t do the work any earlier than it is absolutely required. Well for me, it is going to be my visit to the bathroom early tomorrow morning. There will be no relaxation, no declenching, and no stress-relief. Just the bare minimum to get me out that door.

It’s 11:03pm and I’m afraid to go to bed. I think I have hit rock bottom.

the smile energy

You can’t see farts but your nose will tell you. You can’t see Australia while sitting at the edge of the Pacific, but your ‘mate’ sure is gulping down Fosters. You can’t poke your dreams. Galaxies, emotions, evolution, energy, and magnetic field – their existence cannot be physically touched but they all exist.

Altin, an international cyclist turned Bikram yoga instructor, spent an hour observing my yoga postures and told me that I’m strong-willed, determined, and a firm woman. He observed my body language and then told me that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. He pressed down on my nano muscles and transferred some form of energy. It soothed me and was a perfect transfer, but I have no clue what it was.

It makes me wonder about Reiki & Chi Gong.

Kinetic, potential, chemical, thermal, or nuclear – out of all known forms, my favorite is the smile energy. I think Robin Williams was a master at this one. He once dressed in blue scrubs and faked a German accent to surprise one of his Julliard friends in the hospital. He transferred a million smiles to the audience while constantly switching costumes in Mrs. Doubtfire. During the filming of ‘Schindler’s list,’ Robin called Steven Spielberg to tell him jokes and lift his spirits. In high school, he was apparently voted by his classmates as the ‘least likely to succeed.’

Smile energy, my favorite.

some never leave

It was only a matter of telling her a silly joke and all we had to do was watch her incessant crazy addicting laughter for minutes. It included an exponentially increasing pitch, exposure of all 32 teeth, and holding her tummy so it would not explode. At times, even rolling on the floor was a sight.

At times I wonder if half of my childhood calories were purely her fault – her insisting on having at least 2 cups of pineapple ice cream, the unending chaat that only started with golgappas, aloo tikki, and papri chaat, and trips to the main market for the ever so delicious chole-bhature.

She was a constant running machine. She would go through at least 3 different modes of transportation just to meet any one of us cousins wherever we may have been. She welcomed with an open heart, and would get angry with passion. In all that she did, she gave it her all.

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She was an example of how to express love, how to let go, and how to hold on to happiness. She may physically be gone but her memory will never diminish. I can still hear her voice and her laughter will never fade. In her suffering, she taught us life. She taught me strength that will never fall short.

She was a fan of my dances, my acting, and my laughter. I never realized that all this time, I’ve been a fan of hers.

mornings in Istanbul

Mornings in Istanbul were a breeze of fresh air promising new beginnings. Each came with free motivation to touch the sky. The critically brainstormed to-do list was filled each day, with aspirations along with an estimated plan. While stuffing the very authentic Turkish breakfast, we held our heads high and with pride, prepared to conquer the list.

There was a joy in climbing down the beautifully laid down cobbled streets. The streets took us back to the Roman era influencing our temporary smiles. Temporary because we soon realized that the opposite direction on those same beautifully laid down cobbled streets would still be a moment, but not so much of joy. No matter how intrigued we were about the Basilica Cistern, or trapped into the Egyptian Spice Market, there was always a voice reminding us of the upcoming evil – the uphill. Little by little, one baby step at a time, we managed to distract ourselves – the park at Tophane, a yoga place to the left, and a little shop with fresh fruits & vegetables where each day we made analytical decisions of what not to buy so that we won’t have to carry it.

Evenings were a blend of empathizing with our tired bodies while patting on our backs for seizing the day – a check-mark on workout, and a promise to never do that again. Evenings were filled with deep sleep and reaching the state of zero consciousness, not even to realize that the morning awaits.

And then back to square one where mornings in Istanbul were a breeze of fresh air promising new beginnings.

Sigh!

struggles of a mighty spider

I apparently have a roommate – a spider. For the last three times in the shower, I am practically sharing my space. Having received no cashier’s check for rent, my very first instinct was to attack it with a splash of water, just enough to instill some fear and influence its direction outwards. That has not been a major success.

But in my failure, here’s what I have seen – never for even one second has it stopped climbing. The wall is high, slippery and the end blurry but that hasn’t slowed down any momentum. It must be tiring to climb 13 steps only to fall again and again and again. The spider stays stubborn and determined with no signs of losing any hope. There is no gold, no salary, no gift, and no appreciation waiting on the other side. The independent effort is purely for what the spider believes is freedom, or perhaps just the other side of the wall.

It hasn’t eaten in days and there’s no Gatorade in sight. What does a spider eat anyway; I can’t even see its mouth? Never contemplated on that before! Google says the following and I’ll believe it:

All spiders are carnivorous. Most spiders eat insects but a few of the larger species are big enough to prey on small vertebrate animals like mice or small birds. Most spiders’ jaws work from side to side. They have toothed edges used in breaking up the prey during feeding.”

Back to my story – It hasn’t eaten in days and there’s no Gatorade in sight. With no investment in Zoloft and no dependency on whiskey, the spider keeps climbing. I don’t even hear any heart-clenching songs or ‘Bridget Jones’ on TV while eating a pint. It’s been 2 days but the spider remains focused with 100 percent dedication because the only way out is to keep trying.

So much to learn from the struggles of my freeloader roommate – a mighty spider.

The only way out is to keep trying.” – Roohism

the ancient city of Sobessos

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These 400 square meters belong to the structures built in the 4th or 5th Century. The area is divided into 2 rooms and a pillared main saloon. Each room has an intricate mosaic design laid out with geometrical designs made of different kinds of colored stones and glass. 

Around these 400 square meters, nearly a 100 graves were discovered. Only 10 were excavated. 9 of the these 10 had 5-8 skeletons belonging to little children. The 10th belonged to Diakon, Officer of the Church. No one knows what happened and why the population left but epidemics, famine, or invasions are the current estimations. 

sugar in a liquid state

Sugarmelon is by far my favorite fruit here in Turkey. It could be it’s bright yellow color or the outburst of sugar in a liquid state but I have a strong feeling it’s something else. Every time I walk by a rainbow display of fruits, the flavor catches my attention and decelerates my feet. It’s a mixture of what the outside woody layer entices you towards and what the inside beholds. Any temperature in your mouth is the absolute melting point for a sugarmelon, a perfect invitation.

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hitch hiking in a foreign land

Yes, I’m not going to lie. Among the three of us knowing fluent Hindi, fluent English, fluent Urdu and a bit of broken Arabic, there’s been a language problem. It took us one full day to figure out where to get the bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia. The journey to Otogar (main bus station) just to find this out was an adventure. The local public transportation is solid, only if you know 1) where you are going, 2) how you are going, and 3) the bus number or the metro station nearest to the destination. There is no guide, no brochure, and no information center. And by the time you figure this out, you have already mentally crushed the plan. Stick to the guided tours, and if you are adventurous, you will need to be brave & patient. We enjoy a bit of adventure, a little too much at times.

Can’t believe this but this time, we hitch-hiked on a truck for 70 km. We had already booked and paid for the house and exactly as planned, we also arrived at the Otogar 2.5 hours in advance. But as luck would have it, the only bus now available was to Aksaray, 70 km away from Cappadocia. The explanation by the seller was too convincing “its only an hour away, you take any minibus and no problem, only 10 Turkish Liras!” The bus seat allowed a 45 degree angle, the Turkish MTV was not too far off in competition, the crew served us chilled Pepsi and even checked on the number of travelers after every stop. As soon as we became comfortable, we were unadopted in Aksaray at 5:45am at a gas station where the conductor pointed towards the buses 100 meters away. However, those 100 buses weren’t of any use to us. For a minibus that starts only at 7:00am, we were told to stand by the side of the road and stop one. After waiting and losing hope, we asked the 7th person (in Turkey, it is 7 times a charm) and he was the lucky one to give us a ride. 

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20140711-115637-42997643.jpg The sceneray all around was breathtaking but throughout the journey, I was scared and kept on replaying the fighting match between Papa & the potential kidnapper. Of course, my 3 months of crossfit should come in handy as well. There were thousands of sunflowers to my right, all facing towards the sun but I kept checking out the size of his muscles, tiny. He was pure lean mass which might actually work against us. I bet my friend Mandy would be able to beat the shit out of him! Every 10 km milestone raised my confidence. It was a smart thing that I had already verified the directions on my iPhone so I knew the turns beforehand. The board for Goreme pointed east but he turned north. “Hmmm” I said but then a potential kidnapper wouldn’t offer you freshly picked cherries. We arrived safely and I finally realized there are some honest people still left on the planet who just want to help. The experience gave me chills and added to my adventures, and it also gave me a trigger to write but I’m still not recommending hitch hiking in a foreign land where there has been a language problem.

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